2018 Walnut Valley contest winners

While the southeastern US was focused on Hurricane Florence this past weekend, hot pickers from the rest of the country were in Winfield, Kansas duking it out in the 2018 Walnut Valley instrument contests.

This was the 47th year for this iconic festival, always held the third weekend in September, where the best of the best come to compete for big cash prizes, along with handmade instruments from top luthiers and builders.

Each contest is typically limited to only 40 contestants, accepted on a first come, first served basis. Entrants know how stiff the competition will be, so only the most courageous and experienced players come forward. Since 1st place winners are not eligible to compete again for 5 years, the contests are generally a mix of hot shot youngsters with a few old hands mixed in.

When the 2018 competitions were completed, the winners were announced:

2018 International Autoharp Champions

  1. Les Gustafson-Zook – Goshen, Indiana 
  2. Hal Weeks – Denver, Colorado
  3. Steve Luper – Andover, Kansas

2018 International Finger Style Guitar Champions

  1. Travis Bowman – Alexander, Arkansas
  2. Hiroya Tsukamoto – Woodside, New York
  3. William Russell – Washington, Michigan

2018 National Mountain Dulcimer Championship Winners

  1. Wendy Songe – Tulsa, Oklahoma
  2. Len Swanson – Georgetown, Texas
  3. Jessica Hoskins – Arkansas City, Kansas

2018 National Mandolin Championship Winners

  1. Solly Burton – Sullivan, Indiana
  2. Simon Dunson – Durham, North Carolina
  3. Ethan Batan – Spencer, Indiana

2018 Walnut Valley Old Time Fiddle Winners

  1. Jason Shaw – Lincoln, Nebraska
  2. Josiah Colle – Batesville, Arkansas
  3. Maria McArthur – Tucson, Arizona

2018 National Flat Pick Guitar Championship Winners

  1. Luke Lovejoy – Spencer, Indiana
  2. Jason Shaw – Lincoln, Nebraska
  3. Roy Curry

2018 National Hammer Dulcimer Championship

  1. Colin Beasley – Mobile, Alabama
  2. Benjamin Barker – Wilkesboro, North Carolina
  3. Ben Haugewood – Mineral Point Missouri

2018 National Bluegrass Banjo Championship

  1. Hudsen Doucette – Waller, Texas
  2. Takumi Kodera – Tokiwadai Hodogaya Japan
  3. Trevor Smith – Austin, Texas

The top three prize winners in each category were also  given their choice of new instruments from a wide variety of luthiers, in the order of finish, most of them quite valuable. More details, photos of the winners, and information about the instruments awarded can be seen on the Walnut Valley web site.

Congratulations one and all!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.